Madera Mother Plead Not Guilty to Abandoning Children

April 2, 2009 8:36:13 PM PDT
The Madera mother who police say abandoned her two children made her first court appearance Thursday morning.                   |   Watch Video Above for Extended Coverage   |

One of Jessica Zarate's children was found looking for food in a trash can in a Madera park.

Jessica Zarate was arraigned by video and at first refused the judges offer to provide her with an attorney. After a second offer, she agreed.

Zarate's mother, who lives in Texas, is baffled about why her daughter would deny legal counsel and then enter a plea.

Madera County DA Michael Keitz filed four counts including child endangerment, child abandonment and failing to provide for a child, it could end mean serious jail time.

Zarate's mother says she has been estranged from her daughter for a year. But she says for some reason Zarate wanted kids at a young age.

Her mother says Zarate's children are together in a foster home. She is going through a background check trying to gain custody of them.

Madera County Jail Officials say when an inmate is pregnant they take special precautions including providing prenatal vitamins and giving checkups.

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